Category Archives: Campus News

PAW Goes to the Movies: Princeton Grad Students Review ‘The Ph.D. Movie 2’

From left, Daniel Vitek, Congling Qiu, Alta Fang, and Florian Sprung spoke with PAW’s Mark F. Bernstein ’83 about their impressions of Ph.D. Movie 2. (Frank Wojciechowski)

From left, Daniel Vitek, Congling Qiu, Alta Fang, and Florian Sprung spoke with PAW’s Mark F. Bernstein ’83 about their impressions of The Ph.D. Movie 2. (Frank Wojciechowski)

Unless you are or recently were a graduate student, you may not be familiar with “Piled Higher and Deeper,” Jorge Cham’s comic strip about the ups, downs, and absurdities of grad school life that commonly goes by the much more grad student friendly name, Ph.D. Comics. Think of it as “Dilbert” for the dissertation set. Cham’s strip, which originated when he was a graduate student at Stanford, has been running in student papers and on the Internet since 1997. In 2011, it spawned the first film version, The Ph.D. Movie, which the Chronicle of Higher Education called “hilarious.” This fall a sequel, The Ph.D. Movie 2, funded in large part by a Kickstarter campaign, has been shown at Princeton and other campuses around the world. As in the original, several of the actors in the film are actual Ph.D. students.

In another installment of our periodic feature PAW Goes to the Movies, senior writer Mark F. Bernstein ’83 attended The Ph.D. Movie 2 at Frist Theater, and then asked four current graduate students — Alta Fang (fourth year, mechanical engineering), Daniel Vitek (second year, mathematics), Congling Qiu (first year, mathematics), and Florian Sprung, a mathematics postdoc — whether the film held a mirror up to their real lives.

MFB:  I heard a lot of laughter during the movie, but I couldn’t tell if it was nervous or sincere. Did it hit home?

AF: I think there were many things that were quite realistic, for example when they had trouble scheduling meetings because the professors were so busy, and the students just having a lot of work.

FS: All the bad jokes in the film are like the ones you hear in graduate school — you know, “Are you writing something novel or writing a novel?” That sort of thing.

CQ: It was very similar to Chinese universities. I understood all the jokes, too.

MFB: Florian, you’re the only one here who has actually written a dissertation. Did the film bring back stressful memories? Continue reading

Administration Reaches Agreement With Student Demonstrators

Students celebrate the end of the 33-hour Nassau Hall sit-in. (Mary Hui ’17)

Students celebrate the end of the 33-hour Nassau Hall sit-in. (Mary Hui ’17)

The #OccupyNassau campaign ended Thursday night, 33 hours after it began, with student protest leaders exiting President Eisgruber ’83’s office suite with a signed document that addressed their demands and contained a guarantee of amnesty from disciplinary action.

According to the agreement, Eisgruber will ask the University’s Board of Trustees to initiate discussions, collect information, and make a decision on the Black Justice League’s request to remove Woodrow Wilson 1879’s name from campus buildings — and more broadly, to examine the present legacy of Wilson, a former president of Princeton, on the campus. Eisgruber will also ask Professor Eduardo Cadava, head of Wilson College, to begin the process of considering the removal of a mural of Wilson from the Wilcox dining hall — an action Eisgruber said he supported.

Members of the Black Justice League will also begin discussing with residential college administrators “the viability of the formation of affinity housing for those interested in black culture.”

The protesters’ demand for mandatory “cultural competency” training for faculty was not met. Members of the student group will discuss the possibility of a diversity course-distribution requirement at an upcoming meeting with the General Education Task Force, a group formed as part of Princeton’s ongoing strategic planning. And four rooms will be set aside immediately in the Carl Fields Center for “cultural affinity groups” on campus.

The marathon meeting between the students and Eisgruber, Dean of the College Jill Dolan, and Vice President for Campus Life Rochelle Calhoun, stretched from 3:20 p.m. Thursday until after 8:30 p.m. When talks reached a temporary stalemate over phrasing about 7 p.m., the 150 or so students in the Nassau Hall atrium began to sing and chant. The protest leaders finally exited the office suites about 8:45 p.m. and announcing the agreement, they were greeted with jubilant claps and cheers.

“We appreciate the willingness of the students to work with us to find a way forward for them, for us, and for our community,” Eisgruber said in a statement. “We were able to assure them that their concerns would be raised and considered through appropriate processes.”

Text of the full agreement is included below.

This meeting was attended by the Black Justice League (BJL) and President Eisgruber, Vice President (VP) Calhoun and Dean Dolan. By signing below, I agree to have verbalized the following during the Thursday afternoon meeting with the BJL:

On the first demand concerning the legacy of Woodrow Wilson on this campus:

  • Write to Professor Cadava tonight to initiate the process to consider removal of Wilson’s mural, which will express President Eisgruber’s personal view that the mural should be removed from the Wilcox Dining Hall. Dean Gonzalez will be CC’d on this email exchange. This promise was verbalized by President Eisgruber.
  • Write an email to Katie Hall, the chair of the Board of Trustees, to initiate conversations concerning the present legacy of Woodrow Wilson on this campus, including Black Justice League’s request to remove Woodrow Wilson’s name. This promise was verbalized by President Eisgruber.
  • The Board of Trustees will collect information on the campus community’s opinion on Woodrow Wilson School name and then make a decision regarding the name. This promise was verbalized by President Eisgruber.
  • Commitment to working toward greater ethnic diversity of memorialized artwork on campus. This commitment was verbalized by President Eisgruber.

On the second demand concerning the creation of Affinity Housing:

  • Immediately designate four rooms in the Carl A. Fields Center that will be used by Cultural Affinity Groups. This promise was verbalized by VP Calhoun.
  • BJL members will be involved in a working group with the staff of the Residential Colleges to begin discussions on the viability of the formation of Affinity Housing for those interested in black culture. This promise was verbalized by Dean Dolan.

On the third demand concerning the implementation of Cultural Competency Training and a Diversity Requirement:

  • Work in conjunction with Executive Director John Kolligian to enhance cultural competency training for CPS staff. This promise was verbalized by VP Calhoun.
  • Email Dean Prentice to arrange an introduction with BJL concerning the possibility of cultural competency training. This promise was verbalized by President Eisgruber.
  • Arrange a presentation by BJL to the FACP. This promise was verbalized by President Eisgruber.
  • Dean Gonzalez will work with the BJL to invite two members to attend the meeting on December 8th to discuss with the General Education Task Force the possibility of a diversity requirement. This promise was verbalized by Dean Dolan.

On the final demand concerning amnesty from disciplinary action for those who remained in President Eisgruber’s office overnight on November 18th, 2015.

  • No formal disciplinary action has been nor will be initiated if students peacefully leave President Eisgruber’s office tonight. This promise was verbalized by VP Calhoun.
  • In the future, information in regards to processes concerning disciplinary action, protests and Rights, Rules and Responsibilities will be clearly given from administration to students in writing. This promise was verbalized by VP Calhoun.

On accountability:

  • Inclusion At Princeton website is updated by the Vice Provost of Diversity and Inclusion. Dean Gonzalez is the point person for checking in on the progress concerning the aforementioned issues. This promise was verbalized by Dean Dolan.

Students, Administrators Discuss Demands in Second Day of Nassau Hall Sit-In

Check PAW’s Facebook page each morning and evening for updates on the sit-in in Nassau Hall. Our updates are provided by Princeton University Press Club members Mary Hui ’17 and Gabriel Fisher ’17.

Students inside Nassau Hall’s atrium Tuesday morning. (PAW/Allie Wenner)

Students inside Nassau Hall’s atrium Tuesday morning. (PAW/Allie Wenner)

sit-in_FW

On Wednesday night, some protesters slept inside President Eisgruber’s office while others camped out on the steps of Nassau Hall or in tents nearby. (Mary Hui ’17)

A consistent group of at least 100 students have been stationed inside the Nassau Hall atrium since this morning, with deliveries of bagels, coffee, cereal bars, and pizza fueling them through the day. A town-hall style meeting was held about 10:30 a.m., facilitated by a protest leader. In small groups, students shared their personal experiences in an attempt to articulate what the sit-in means to each of them. Students produced a video detailing their personal motivations for supporting the cause; this video was later shown to President Eisgruber ’83, Dean of the College Jill Dolan, and Vice President for Campus Life W. Rochelle Calhoun.

While Eisgruber was seen entering Nassau Hall this morning, he did not appear in his office until the afternoon. Just after 3 p.m., Eisgruber, Dolan, and Calhoun entered the president’s office to meet with the students camped inside. The students restated the three demands they presented the day before. As of 4:30 p.m., Eisgruber had agreed that a mural of Woodrow Wilson in the Wu-Wilcox dining hall should be removed, and Calhoun said it was viable to create a cultural space for black students in the Carl A. Fields Center. They were continuing to discuss the issue of mandatory cultural competency training for faculty and staff. “You’re all talking about love, this is the language you all talk in. I think it’s very hard to put that language into a mandatory context,” Dolan said.

Update: At 8:45 p.m., the University announced that it reached an agreement with the demonstrators. Text of the agreement follows below.

 

Continue reading

Update: Nassau Hall Sit-In

On Wednesday afternoon, the sit-in spilled into the hallway outside President Eisgruber ’83’s office. (Mary Hui ’17)

On Wednesday afternoon, the sit-in spilled into the hallway outside President Eisgruber ’83’s office. (Mary Hui ’17)

The student sit-in led by Princeton’s Black Justice League will begin its second day with a town-hall meeting at the Nassau Hall atrium at 9 a.m. Last night, students slept inside President Eisgruber ’83’s office while other supporters camped outside Nassau Hall. The protesters received visitors, including Rev. William Barber II, a national NAACP board member; Professor Eddie Glaude *97, chair of the African American Studies department; and Ruth Simmons, a University trustee, former Princeton provost, and president emerita of Brown University.

READ MORE: The University Press Club’s ongoing coverage of the protest

From The Daily Princetonian, Students “walkout and speakout,” occupy Nassau Hall until demands of Black Justice League are met

From The New York Times, Princeton Students Hold Sit-In on Racial Justice

From WPRB News, audio coverage of the protest’s first 10 hours

 

Princeton Students Sit In at Nassau Hall, Demanding Improvements to Experience of Black Students

President Eisgruber ’83, right, listens to the demands of the Black Justice League. (PAW/W. Raymond Ollwerther ’71)

President Eisgruber ’83, right, listens to the demands of the Black Justice League. (PAW/W. Raymond Ollwerther ’71)

Students began a sit-in in President Christopher Eisgruber ’83’s office today to support demands that include acknowledging the “racist legacy” of Woodrow Wilson 1879 and renaming the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs and Wilson College. The students are also seeking cultural competency training for all staff and faculty, required courses on the history of marginalized peoples, and a cultural space on campus specifically for black students. They vowed to continue the sit-in until Eisgruber signs their list of demands. Eisgruber and Dean of the College Jill Dolan met with the students soon after the sit-in began.

President Eisgruber ’83 and Dean of the College Jill Dolan meet with students inside Eisgruber’s office. (Mary Hui ’17)

President Eisgruber ’83 and Dean of the College Jill Dolan meet with students inside Eisgruber’s office. (Mary Hui ’17)

(Mary Hui ’17)

(Mary Hui ’17)

READ MORE: Full text of the students’ demands is available on the Princeton Black Justice League Facebook page.

PAW Goes to the Movies: ‘Steve Jobs,’ with Professor Michael Littman

Professor Michael Littman, left, with PAW senior writer Mark F. Bernstein ’83, says that Steve Jobs was a skilled designer, as well as a master of marketing. (Beverly Schaefer)

Professor Michael Littman, left, with PAW senior writer Mark F. Bernstein ’83, says that Steve Jobs “was a visionary salesman, and he had an artist’s eye for design.” (Beverly Schaefer)

When the history of our time is written, will Steve Jobs be remembered as one of the world’s great innovators? The Apple co-founder and CEO, who died in 2011, is the subject of a new movie, aptly titled Steve Jobs, which focuses on the rollout of three of his most significant products: the Macintosh in 1984, the NeXT in 1988, and the iMac in 1998. The film, which was written by Aaron Sorkin and directed by Danny Boyle, stars Michael Fassbender as Jobs and Kate Winslet as Jobs’s longtime marketing assistant, Joanna Hoffman.

In another installment of our periodic series, PAW Goes to the Movies, senior writer Mark F. Bernstein ’83 invited Michael Littman, a professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering, to evaluate Jobs the movie and Jobs the man. Littman teaches a class, “Engineering in the Modern World,” that includes study of Jobs, Bill Gates, and the development of the personal computer. He also teaches a course on automation in which students design the equivalent to the original Apple I computer.

moviesMFB: This was a movie written and directed by non-engineers. Did they get the science right?

ML: I think they got it right. If I were to give it a grade technically, I would give it high marks.

MFB: Was there anything you didn’t like?

ML: The movie presented Jobs as a very skilled marketer, but I don’t think it emphasized his skills as a designer enough. Jobs developed the Graphical User Interface for the Macintosh, and it changed the face of computing. That technology was basically pirated from Xerox. Xerox could have developed it, but they didn’t have the business skill to recognize what they had. So what if Jobs stole it? He was the one who introduced it to society. Henry Ford didn’t invent the automobile, but he was the one who developed it. Continue reading